Q: How can I get rid of ants in my house without
worrying about my kids and dog getting into the poison?
soapy water in a spray bottle or on a sponge to thoroughly clean
the area where you are seeing ants. It will kill individual ants
and erase the scent trail that the ants are following. Vinegar
and water can do the trick too.
Still got ant trouble?
Buy some boric acid at any hardware store and mix a small amount with water
and some sugar or grease -depending on if they are sugar or grease-eating
ants. Place the paste in an empty screw top jar, punch holes in the lid and
set it out of reach of kids and pets. The ants will find and eat the paste
and take it back to their nests killing off the entire colony.
It's natural, less toxic and it's the EarthSmart "ant"swer. back
Q: How can I get better gas mileage without
getting a new fuel efficient car?
sure your tires are filled up to the recommended pressure "psi" or
pounds per inch. You'll find this number right on your tire or
in your owner's manual. Properly inflated tires can save you
up to 6% on each gallon of gas.
Also be sure to drive without fast starts and stops - smooth
driving can save you another 10% on every tank. And regular maintenance
- oil changes,
tire rotation and clean filters can save another10%. back
Q: When I get to the check-out counter at the grocery store I
want to answer the "paper or plastic" question with the most responsible
answer but I'm not sure I know which is right. Please help!
people think that paper is the correct answer because paper is
recyclable at your curbside, made from trees - a renewable resource
and it is biodegradable if it happens to end up in a landfill.
This is true. But plastic bags are also recyclable even though
they are made from petroleum, which is a non-renewable resource,
and are lighter to transport.
The key is that you must bring a plastic bag back to a store
that collects them for recycling. Many stores now have quit
collecting plastic bags because of problems with the secondary
market for "plastic
film". Contact your grocery store and encourage them to take plastic
bags if they currently don't. As long as you re-use or recycle
any used bag you're doing the right thing.
Of course, if you want extra eco-karma for bringing home
your groceries, bring reusable organic cotton cloth grocery
bags on every shopping trip.
It's very European and you'll be saving resources and the trouble of recycling
a used bag. back to top
Q: I am interested in trying organic foods but
I am so overwhelmed when I look at the organic fruits and
vegetables section because they seem
more expensive and I'm not even sure what organic means? Do I still need
to wash organic vegetables?
foods are foods grown in the most healthful and land responsible
manner possible. This translates into fruits and vegetables grown
without harmful pesticides (poisons) and yes, you still must
wash them before eating or cooking to make sure that any harmful
bacteria is washed off. Organics can be more expensive but they
don't need to be. Purchase what is in season in your location
and you will find the pricing to be comparable to non-organics.
For example, buy organically grown apples in Minnesota in the
fall rather than an apple that needs to travel from New Zealand.
You will be buying organic, saving money and saving energy in
transportation by purchasing locally grown produce. back
Q: I've heard that natural gas prices are going
to be high again this winter. My budget is already tight,
what can I do to keep my heating
yes, war, blackouts and a bad economy are all creating havoc
with the energy markets. The good news is that there are several
low cost things that you can do to take the chill out of that
gas company bill:
If you turn down your thermostat from 70 degrees to 65 degrees during the
day and from 60 degrees to 55 degrees while you're sleeping, you can save
25% on your heating bill .
You can save more by turning down your hot water heater to 120 degrees. Buy
a cooking thermometer and turn your tap all the way to hot to measure the
tap temperature. If it's more than 120 degrees, you're wasting money.
You should also change your furnace filters monthly and
get a furnace inspection every fall.
Open your drapes to let the sun naturally warm your home
during the day and close them at night to keep the heat
in. If you follow these simple tips, opening your heating
bill shouldn't give you a chill. back
Q: I have recently moved into my house and my
neighbor told me that I may have a radon problem, what
can I do about it?
is a colorless odorless radioactive gas that occurs naturally
as soil breaks down. It can get trapped in the lower level of
your home by coming up from the soil through cracks in walls,
floors or sump pump basins. Radon is the 2nd leading cause of
lung cancer after smoking with 15,000 - 30,000 deaths each year.
The only way to know if you have radon is to test for it. Test kits are available
at most home stores or through the American Lung Association. The cost of
the kits average $25 per test. The test involves leaving a collector vial
or sponge out undisturbed for 3-7 days with windows and doors closed.
If the test shows that you do have dangerously high levels of radon you can
seal up cracks in flooring and lower level walls, increase ventilation in
crawl spaces or plastic off dirt floor areas in crawlspaces yourself. Or
hire a contractor that specializes in radon elimination but check with your
local Health Department or City for a list of reputable companies. For further
information contact the American Lung Association or the EPA. back
Q: I wear suits to work everyday and they need
to be dry-cleaned but I hate the way they smell after they've
been cleaned, are there any better
odor from traditional dry-cleaning comes from the solvent used
in the cleaning process called perchloro-ethelene or "perc".
Perc is a dangerous chemical suspected of causing cancer, as
well as, less serious physical reactions in some people. It is
classified as a hazardous chemical by the EPA, can contaminate
ground water and contributes to smog problems in cities. The
less toxic alternatives to perc dry-cleaners are: silicone based
solvent cleaners, carbon dioxide cleaners and "wet" cleaners.
All of which do not have the strong odor or potential side effects
of perc cleaners. If you can't find a non-perc dry-cleaner in
your area, contact your state pollution control agency or health
department for a list of less toxic dry-cleaners. If you are
currently using a perc dry-cleaners, be sure to remove the plastic
film from cleaned clothes and let them air out for 1-2 days in
a room that you don't use for sleeping. It will help reduce the
odor and give the chemicals a chance to leave the fabric before
you wear it. back to top
Q: I don't want to buy fish or seafood that's
endangered. How can I get current information about responsible
for you! Since over 60% of the world marine stock is depleted,
it is very important that we pay attention to what types of fish
and seafood we're buying. Our fishermen need to leave enough
of each species in the sea so that they can reproduce and not
become endangered. The best resource that I have found for this
information is the Monterey Bay Aquarium site at www.mbayaq.org.
Hooray for the many chefs in restaurants who have become aware
of this issue and won't serve endangered fish or seafood. Beware
of your local grocery store - it's a rare butcher at a meat counter
who knows anything about this subject, so do your own research
before venturing out to pick up dinner. back
Q: I've heard that lead fishing tackle is a
problem for wildlife. What should I be using?
have used lead for years because it's soft, malleable, cheap
and provides the right kind of weight for fishing line. In the
last several years, lead sinkers and jigs have been found to
kill loons and birds of prey that eat "the fish that got away" and
still have the lead jig in their tummy. The birds swallow the
jig when they eat the fish get lead poisoning and can die in
a week. Good non-lead alternatives include: steel, bismuth, ceramic
and tin sinkers and jigs. You can find the non-toxic tackle at
your local sporting goods store or online at national sporting
goods outlets like Cabella's. If you're teaching a child to fish,
non-toxic tackle is a good lesson in wildlife protection and
healthier for the small angler. Be sure to read the label carefully
or ask for non-lead tackle - the loons are counting on you. back
Q: I love to golf but feel guilty about playing
because of the habitat that golf courses take away and
the dangerous pesticides used to
make golf courses green. Got any ideas to make me feel better about the game?
is a new kind of golf course becoming popular that protects habitat
(and in some cases enhances it!) and uses less chemical applications.
It's popping up in newer public courses around the country. It's
catching on with greenskeeping professionals because the courses
are naturally beautiful with less turf to mow and require less
chemicals and water so are cheaper to maintain than traditional
high input golf courses.
Audubon International (not to be confused with the local
birding people) has information about the practices and a
list of golf courses at www.audubonintl.org click on "institute" and then "research" to
find the links for golf. They have a certification program
for golf courses that are more environmentally friendly so watch
for the certified by
Audubon International label.
In the meantime, go ahead and play but wash your hands before
you eat and never put tees in your mouth to keep the pesticides
out of your body! You can also walk the course to avoid using
energy to fuel
a cart, don't swing in the rough and try to buy tees made
from corn that biodegrade and apply your bug spray on the
cart path not the grass (it
will kill turf). back to top